1. Put attendee experience first
AVGirl Productions’ Midori Connolly stresses thinking about the attendee experience before considering the audiovisual, software, or social-media components of an event. “If someone comes to me about webcasting, or livestreaming, or making part of an event virtual, the first thing I do is triage,” she said. “They generally don’t know why they want to do it. They start asking questions about technology, like what kind of cameras should they use.”
2. Be clear about what you want to achieve
Connolly also emphasizes the importance of deciding internally on the goals the meeting seeks to accomplish before chasing after bells and whistles. “Put people and goals first, technology second,” she said. “Ask what you need before you do anything else, and it will save a lot of time and heartache.”
3. Don’t think you need to be an expert
Liz King of Liz King Events hews to a similar “people first, technology second” philosophy. “Planners should know they don’t need to be ‘gurus,’” she said. “They just have to know enough to have a good conversation and have enough people they can turn to for the things they don’t know.” Rather than playing connect-the-dots, she approaches event-tech companies directly and works with them to figure out how her goals for an event might be met through the use of their technologies.
4. Get to the point in an entertaining way
A people-first approach is also critical to engaging audiences through social media, according to Smarter Shift’s Jenise Fryatt. Research that she has done in this area reveals that people are looking for an entertaining experience, and meeting organizers need to find ways for social media to “boil the info down so they don’t have to sit there for hours to get the juicy nuggets they need,” she said.
Focusing on “the why” before “the how” could make mastering Twitter, interviewing technology vendors, or finding the right app for a 5,000-attendee conference less daunting for planners, who have been putting attendee needs front and center for their entire careers.